tv The Communicators CSPAN December 12, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
a fact based dialogue with the fcc when it comes to potential regulation of the wireless industry. one deemphasized act based, and what issues were you referring to specifically -- why did you emphasize that-based? >>ñi when you look at the wirels industry today in the u.s., the point i made is that most vibrant and most competitive marketplace in the entire country, not only the country but the world. we made our point using the fact
that the u.s., by any measure, whether the concentration index that is used by the department of justice or just by the number of competitors that we have in this country, it is the most competitive market in the world and the least concentrated market in the world. i wanted to make those points, because some people have said and are still saying that maybe the industry is not competitive enough, but in the u.s. we have four national wireless competitors, but we also have 173 other local, regional, or specialty carriers, for a total of 177. by contracts -- by contrast, the next nearest country has a total of 37. it is a very competitive marketplace, and the best evidence that supports those facts or the prices that we charge our customers.
when you look at customers in the 26 developed countries of the world, the u.s. has the least cost per minute. we charge customers in the u.s. the least amount per minute of any of the developed countries. not just the least amount, it is 60% less than the average. that results in u.s. customers talking three times as much as the average of the developed world. it highlights that competition is working, that customers are getting a good deal, and customers are getting great choices in the united states. those are the kind of facts that we shared with the chairman and his staff. i commend them for coming out and meeting with us and listening toñi what the industry account as they approached some important rules for the country and this industry. >> rule such as what? >> will like neutrality. that is a hot topic for the industry.
-- rules like net neutrality. there are groups that are proposing that it be applied to the wireless industry as well, and we think the wireless industry is a veryçó competitive industry. in the end, the customers got to make the choice, rather than regulation. we are pro and open networks. we are pro net neutrality, but we want to make sure we do not have burdensome regulations on how people use and run the internet. ñr>> if you are pro network neutrality, woule"you beñrñrs rulemaking at the fcc? >> we would be opposed to wireless industry. that is an industry that is competitive and barbara and is growing at five times the rate of the country -- competitive
and vibrant. in general, we think the industry is working very well and is delivering very innovative products. it is doingçó things that we do not see in other parts of the world. i also mentionedñi that today wn you compare what isñi happeningn the u.s., all of the attention for wireless has turned up too smart phones. we are leadingñi the world and e deployment of smart phones and networks that allow those smart phones to work. the fact that when you compare the u.s. and the most advanced formsxd of third generation wireless technology, the u.s. has 40% of the world's customers in those advanced technologiesxdñr. ó[o onlyi have 7% of the world customers. it highlights that the wireless industry today is working well. it is competitive, is
delivering a great value in 3wgreat choices. has the latest technology that our customers are enjoying. we should be thoughtful and very careful and have lots of discussion about it. i think that the chairman, to his credit, is seeking input from all sources. i am sure he will come out with some rulings that will address those concerns, not just hours, but others in the industry as well. xd >> were less and wireline technology is very different. why is it a bad thing to apply the rules to the wireless sector? >> that is a great and important recognition point. it is a point i personally made with the chairman and his staff, and i am glad he recognizes it. what he said to me is that we
should be thoughtful about how we apply them to wireless. the spectrum is limited in wireless, and we should be thought about putting rules in place that encourage people to conserve this valuable resource. those kind of details -- the devil is in the details, but the fact that there is that recognition is encouraging on the part of the commission. until we see the final ruling, we will not be able to tell if we have any concerns about it or not. >> the chairman talked about this in his speech, and that is spectrum allocation. some have questioned whether you really need that much spectrum. >> what we are seeing is just a data revolution like we have never seen.
i the way, that revolution started right here in this country. the u.s. is the epicenter of the next revolution in wireless. what we are seeing is just customers using data on these wireless devices like we never anticipated. they are using it in record numbers. just at at&t we have seen a five dozen% increase in daily usage over the last several years. -- a 5000% increase. when you use your phone only for boys, you can only talk for so much during the day. -- when you use your own only four voice. when you use it for data, it requires more spectrum. to look at videos, to play music around the clock, those are applications that are consuming significantly more data. it will require more spectrum so that those applications can
continue to thrive in our competitive environment. >> do you agree with chairman janikowski that there is an upcoming spectrum crisis? >> i think there is absolutely the need for more spectrum, and i think we need to do it quickly. i think the chairman -- it takes a long time to clear spectrum. history has shown that even in the 700 mhz spectrum, it took many years to clear the spectrum. there is a sense of urgency, not just because of the spectrum, but how long it takes to clear the spectrum and put it into action. i totally agree with the chairman that there needs to be a sense of urgency about doing this and doing it quickly. >> to drill down, which spectrum? the fcc is talking about reallocating broadcast spectrum.
the 0 d and other military spectrums will also be looked at at some point. can you give us a sense politically, how difficult politically will it be to get dod spectrum? >> anytime that you try to reallocate spectrum, it is very controversial. it will take some leadership on the part of the current administration to make the wisest decision. they have to balance the various constituencies to be able to give us what we think will be the best and quickest path for some additional spectrum. >> another topic that has gotten a lot of attention -- their neutral on -- lefever bans on manual texting.
-- de favre bans on manual texting. -- they favor bans on manual texting. >> i have encouraged them to take the issue of texting and driving and make it a top priority to go out and be aggressive about communicating the fact that we do not want people texting and driving, and to get a campaign that is proactive rather than reactive. i think you are seeing ctia and its member companies taking up that slack. we do not want our young people texting and driving. >> we should just know that ralph de la vega is the incoming chairman of the ctia, which is the wireless association. >> at at&t, we have taken a
policy that we do not want our employees driving an texting. it is best practices like that that we are encouraging all of the ctia companies to take up. we also enforce those policies with our own employees. we want to be able to walk the talk, and that is to say we have got to stop customers of doing that by setting the example. it is not safe for our young people. >> some said the group said people who have lost relative talk about its cognitive impact of talking while driving. is that something you think the industry should come out against as well, and say people should not talk all driving, even on a handsfree device, because of the cognitive destruction? >> that is a little more
controversial. i think we have taken the position of letting the customer decide, looking at all the relevant information, being transparent about that, and letting the customer make that decision. when it comes to texting, that is a very clear case that is way too much destruction, and we do not want people doing that. >> if we could return to net neutrality, i just want to ask with regard to the spectrum that at&t recently purchased, what would happen if that spectrum fell under net neutrality proposed rules? >> that is a very interesting question, and somewhat complex. when we did on the spectrum at the time of the 700 mhz option, there were two classes of spectrum. one was the open access spectrum, and we purposely bid on a section of the spectrum that did not have those requirements. i think the fcc in its wisdom at
the time set up that block that had the open access requirement as a test to see how the industry would deal with open access requirements. we did a higher price because of the uncertainty about what those requirements would mean. we wanted to make sure we could run our business as we had been accustomed to doing it. subsequent to that option and before the spectrum was put into place, there appears to be a change in the rules. we have not seen the final rules, so i am being cautious to say it appears to be, but if in fact we have to abide by rules that we purposely tried to avoid, to me that throws into question how we can guarantee in future options that when we invest money in spectrum, we can guarantee that the rules are not going to change after we started to play the game.
it is very concerning issue to us. we think a more reasonable approach may be if the commission in its wisdom decides to go forward with the concept of the c-block having the open access requirements and letting the marketplace decide whether that approach is better than the traditional approach. i think it is not all that different than some of the talking horses that have been proposed in the health-care area. there may be a model year that can accomplish what the commission wants an at guarantee that those people who bid, and the bids totaled $90 billion, so it is not an insignificant amount of money, can be guaranteed that the rules under which the auctions were held will be retained in the future. >> our guest is ralph de la
vega, paul kirby of telecommunications reports is our guest reporter. if you would just take a minute and give us your background, it is rather interesting. you is just give us your professional and personal background, and you have also just authored a book. >> i just authored a book called "obstacles welcome." it chronicles my life from the time i left cuba at the age of 10 years old. it was probably the most dramatic point in my entire life, because of opportunity and the persecution my family felt in cuba at the time as a result of the revolution. they decided to leave cuba. you can imagine how difficult it is to leave your native country. you can imagine how difficult they had to feel the situation was, to leave all your material possessions behind and move to another country to get freedom
and opportunity that you felt would be lacking in your own. when we got to the airport, my parents were told that at that point time, only my papers were correct, that only i could leave that day. the family had to make a choice, we could all stay behind or they could sendñrçó me a head and thn follow later in the papers or straightened out. my father made a courageous decision to send me a head. he called some friends of the family and told them to look after me, that it would be like a sleep over. it would be four years later before i would ever see my parents. i came to the u.s. at the ageñr of 10 by myself, without speaking the language, without any family here. those were difficult times. i was very thankful that a couple took me inçó, also immigrants here, and raised me as their own child. ever since then,ñi everything in my life was easy relative to
that. i tell people that sometimes the obstacles that you face are opportunities in disguise, because in those early days, i really thought that what happened to meet was somehow my punishment. i cannot understand why all my friends were worth their families that had things i was used to, and i was in a new country, could not speak the language, did not know the people i was with. in the end, it turned out that i would not have changed a thing about what happened that day. i realize that i was in a difficult situation, but i was in the greatest country in the world with a wonderful set of people who were taking care of me. my theme of the book is that inside every obstacle, there is opportunity. if you look for it, once you sees it, the opportunity is yours. >> he was chief operating officer at singular wireless and has been with at&t since 2007.
mr. kirby, next question. >> early termination fees are starting to get more attention in washington. verizon wireless recently announced that it would raise the fee on advanced devices. is at&t thinking of doing that, and is there concern that it might result in legislation or regulation on etf's? >> i understand that verizon has done so, and i am understand there has been a bill introduced. i think that in cases like this, i always say it is best to let the free enterprise system and the marketplace play out, rather than immediately react with regulation. you will find me being a proponent of letting customers have choices of devices, service plans, and even choices of etf's if that is what they would
like. let's not burden the industry with additional regulation. >> how much time he's been lobbying in washington or working with congress for the fcc? >> i actually do not spend a lot of time lobbying, but i respond to their request for information. i find that the new administration has really impressed me with how they are reaching out to various constituencies. when they asked for comments or to give us an opportunity to tell our story, i do not hesitate to do it. i don't spend a lot of time there. we have people on the hill that do a lot of that work for us. when i am asked and they want to talk to me personally, i am always glad to do it, because i think it is an important function of the process we are in to make sure that people on the hill here from our perspective directly. >> roaming is a key issue in the industry. it allows the subscribers of one
carrier to use another network. it is getting increased attention at the fcc as well. smaller national carriers and regional carriers want them modified. can you give us a sense why you don't think they should be modified? >> we are not opposed to roaming. we would gladly do roaming deals with carriers, but what we do not want to do is permit a carrier to use our network instead of building up their own. it is clearly not an issue of wanting to do it. i think most carriers want to use roaming for their customers when they leave our region, as opposed to on a resale basis. if we are not careful, it could lead to a disincentive for companies to invest on spectrum
that they hold. it is a fine balance of making sure that we do have roaming so that the rates are such that they do notñi encourage certain companies should not build out, not invest, not improve their networks and just used very low rates to the detriment of others. if we have a fair and a balanced approach to running, i am very supportive of running. we have many roaming agreements with our partners throughout the country. >> when we spoke with chairman julius genachowski a few weeks ago on this program, we talked with him about universal service fund. we want to play a little bit of that interview and get your reaction to what he said. >> the bad news is, the program is struggling, given the changes in the marketplace. as the contribution based for
the program shrinks, there are other issues creating stress is on the program. there is a wide bipartisan group that has sought reform in the universal service fund for quite some time. the last element of the program that needs reform is that, as you said, is targeted at the kind of communication service that we had when we were growing up, ordinary telephones. what we need to do is reorient the universal service fund to support the next generation of communication services. that is something that is widely recognized as desirable. there are a lot of hard questions in theory at how we get from here to there. -- in figuring out how we get from here to there. it will take awhile to devise a way to inform universal service and implement it, but there is widespread agreement that we need to reorient the universal service fund to broadband for the 21st century.
>> i think that reorienting the fund to broadbent is a fundamentally correct thing. our focus would be to direct those funds to unserved areas, where people do not currently have broadband, and we actually are and wectia and our partner companies to find out if there is a way we can attract those areas with creative wireless approaches, so can make sure every american can have access to broadband, one way or another. >> we do see that as an additional tax at all? >> i don't be that as an additional tax, no. >> congress had talked about introducing a national framework bill that would regulate wireless services at the national level instead of each state. how likely do you think it would
be for something like that to actually get through? >> i know that has been ongoing for a while. what we are hearing is that there are other, more pressing issues for right now. something like we could happen sometime next year. we have been supporting a national framework in order to move some issues to the national level and to get them expedited. we are a fairly flexible and how to deal with the different viewpoints on that. we think it should be a national framework, and i think a national framework would help the industry in general. when you put legislation forward, sometimes you really don't know what finally comes out. we are going to wait and see what the final bill looks like before we decide how much we want to support it. >> finally, we cannot talk to at&t mobile without talking about the iphone.
when-year agreement with apple in, and would you like that agreement to continue? >> we do not comment on when the agreement ends. we are very happy with the agreement. apple is a great company. the iphone is the best buys out there, and we are very happy with it. >> verizon and at&t recently dropped lawsuits recently over advertising. why did the two companies decide to do that? >> rather than fight the issues in the courts, i think we would rather fight it in the court of public opinion. i think it was a good idea to put illegal weapons down and just talk to our customers and get them the facts. in the end, that the customers make the choice.
>> the broadband deployment plan is due in february of next year. at&t is running commercials saying they support broadband deployment. are you supporting what the government is doing right now to roll out broadband nationwide? >> we have seen some of the early work that the task force has done, and has been excellent. i have seen the presentations and looked at them. it is very detailed, very well thought out. we are encouraged by the early efforts. it may seem like a long time, but february is right around the corner. we are very encouraged about the great work that is being done in this area. >> has at&t been applying for the grants are taking the government running the government money to help rollout? >> we have not applied for the government money at this time. >> how difficult is it to bridge
the various views of members on different issues? >> that is a great question. one of my goals for the incoming year for ctia is to reach out to all members to make sure that we focus on the things that unite us and not the things that divide us. when you look at all the issues we have in common, for the good of the group and the industry, we have many more issues that unite us than divides us. you will see me reach out to rural carriers, to new carriers, and make sure that we have just one ctia, moving forward to address the key issues facing the industry. it is a critical industry to the country. i will be reaching out and have already done so to our members, and asking us to be more united.
the more united we are, the more effective we will be able to operate. >> thank you for being our guest on "the communicators." >> tomorrow on "washington journal," the president of the committee for responsible for federal budget talks about the implication of raising the federal debt ceiling. norman solomonñi and markedñi tapscott discuss the news of the week,ñi including health care ad the obamañr administration oppoe theñr policy on the war in afghanistan. we talk about a proposal in the senate to extend medicare to include 55-64-year-old spirit
"washington journal," live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> by a vote of 60-34, the senate has cleared the way for a final vote on fiscal year 2010 spending bill. 10 federal requirements have been operating under temporary spending authority since october 1. $447 billion in operating budget and 650 billion orson payments for federal benefit programs such as medicare and medicaid. the senate gavels in tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. eastern with a final vote on the bill scheduled for 2:00 p.m.. after that, senators return to debate on health-care legislation. live coverage of the senate on c-span2. >> recently he published "republicans and the black